An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

american marriage“Until Death Do Us Part” or… until jail sets us apart – that’s a focal point of this well written, discussion-stirring novel by Tayari Jones. Celestial and Roy are a married couple, just one year into their love-filled relationship, doing well financially, planning for a child – when something unexpected happens and overturns their lives, sending Roy to prison for 12 years. Now, Celestial is at the cross roads and it seems like no matter what she chooses there is no joyful solution for either her or Roy. The first half of the book just zoomed by me; it was easy flowing and intriguing. The second half did slow down a bit, but it was still very good. The book touches on multiple subject matters including: racism, injustice, love & friendship, obligations, search for happiness. A good book for a book club discussion – evokes various feelings and opinions. (Submitted by Mariya)

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Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan

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I can’t remember why I placed a hold on Tell Me More, but I’m happy that I did. On the dust jacket it cites the Huffington Post, who call her “the poet laureate of the ordinary.” This book evoked all sorts of responses from me; I laughed, I cried, I sent photos of passages to friends. It was the recounting of experiences in life that provide suggestions about how to handle heartbreaks and joys that a reader might encounter in their own life. I plan to re-visit it. (Submitted by J.Wilson)

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I know I am Precious and Sacred by Debora Abood

preciousI came upon this book by accident, while searching for something else. But, as you all probably know, many of the best things in life come as a surprise and turn out to be completely different from what we were initially looking for. When I saw this picture book, the title got hold of my attention and I started reading it. Inside, there is a powerful voice that is telling a child (or you, as a reader) as to why everyone is special and precious. The many reasons why every child and every being is unique and valuable are shared through a strong and flowing verse. This beautiful poetic language is accompanied by gorgeous, photography. The combination of the two gives this book a breath and a heart beat (the latter one is like a steady beat of a mini drum). Highly recommend this First Nations picture book to anyone who wants to empower a child (or anyone else!). The book is all about self-confidence, respect for others, and appreciation of life. (Submitted by Mariya)

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Circe by Madeline Miller

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I am not a Greek mythology buff by any stretch of the imagination, so you can understand my reluctance to pick up this book about the Greek goddess Circe, daughter of Helios (the Sun God).  Much to my surprise however, Madeline Miller’s Circe was completely accessible. I thought, oh boy I’m going to get confused with all the long Greek mythology names and places, but I did not have any issues at all with it. In fact, I could not put the book down and would rush home just so I could keep reading it. I wanted to keep going but at the same time, I didn’t want it to end! This is a fantastic epic about a forgotten Goddess, who truly deserves this homage. Circe is the Goddess of magic who turns men into pigs. What more do you need to know? This book delves into a wonderfully constructed backstory with cameos by some of your favourite Greek gods and goddesses. Without a doubt, Circe is a spellbinding read! (Submitted by Alan)

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Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

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A beautifully, sparely written novel about a young man and his estranged father, who find themselves on a final walk together. Franklin Starlight, an Ojibway teenager, knows next to nothing about his family, or his past. Along comes (returns) Eldon, his alcoholic absentee father, who takes Franklin on a last “medicine walk” to try and reconnect and finally share Frank’s history.

This was so beautiful. There are no saccharine, overtly emotional scenes. Richard Wagamese writes with careful expertise, and we share so much with these two characters without having too much unneccesary actual dialogue. Nature plays a great and important role, calming and vast, giving the Starlight men a world to disappear into.

This is a story about making mistakes, finding forgiveness, and moving on. There are no pleading excuses from Eldon, no righteous speeches from Frank. The themes of loyalty, family, love, and finding peace within yourself are all here, and explored beautifully. I look forward to reading more of Wagamese’s titles. (Submitted by Veronica)

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

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As she approaches her sixteenth birthday, Sabrina Spellman faces an impossible choice: accept her birthright and become a witch, or choose to live her life as a mortal and experience real love with her sweetheart, Harvey. A simple enough premise, but throw in two deranged aunts, an undead demoness bent on blood revenge, a talking cat with his own agenda, and a visiting cousin who may not be as innocent as he appears, the approach here is wildly thrilling.  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina isn’t for everyone. For starters, it is incredibly dark: it deals with witchcraft, and not your run of the mill, Bewitched, wart on the nose, riding a broom kind of witchcraft, either: it’s more ‘bride of Satan,’ human sacrificing, end of the world inducing, demon unleashing, ancient ritual invoking kind of witchcraft, the kind that really spooks you through and through. The writing is incredible, the drawings are atmospheric and chilling, and as a super fan of the new CW show Riverdale, I was elated to see that there is a connection between Sabrina’s Greendale and Archie’s Riverdale universes. I couldn’t put this graphic novel down, and that’s saying a lot for someone who doesn’t particularly like graphic novels! I was so engrossed in this that I pre-ordered the next book. I can’t wait to follow this scary story even further! (Submitted by Mandi)

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Christodora by Timothy Murphy

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I confess that I am in love with New York City, which is why this book initially appealed to me, as it revolves around NYC’s Lower East Side and more specifically, at the Christodora, a historic apartment building that still stands today in the heart of Alphabet City. We are introduced chapter by chapter to a core group of residents that call the Christodora home, jumping from the 70s, 80s, 90s, right through until the present and into the near future as their lives and stories intertwine in an epic tale of fate and circumstance.

We meet a new couple deep in love, a doctor dealing with depression, and an AIDS activist coming into his own. The themes take us from the AIDS crisis to drug addiction to the art world and beyond. The characters in Tim Murphy’s Christodora will win you over and have you rooting for them all the way to the final page. This was my favourite book of 2017! (Submitted by Alan)

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